What’s {Up}

Many ways to say, "Merry Christmas"

Traditional clothes from northern Spain...

Dear friends & family,

First we want to say Happy New Year! We hope you have enjoyed this Christmas season and have been able to consider the blessing it is that Christ comes to us not only at Christmas, but every single day.

So much has happened since our last update; Just to give you an idea of recent happenings: IBSTE has become accredited as an official Spanish university (Huge praise!), we went to the Canary Islands for a youth retreat, we made visits to Bilbao (northern Spain) and to Nice (southern France), the Generalitat de Catalunya approved a new law restricting religious freedom, we have welcomed five new students and Spain has elected a new prime minister. Just thinking about all of it makes our jaw drop!

Artisan candies

Mmm...café con leche!

Street sign in Bilbao

The Apostle Paul wrote to his son (in Christ) Timothy, the following words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Ti. 4:7) Paul comes to the end of his life and is able to say with joy that he has completed the mission that God has commended him with. His pride is not in his achievements but in the doing and following of the will of his beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of this he is able to encourage Timothy, so that he does the same, so that he would fight the good fight of faith that he has before him. This fight is for the Gospel. To live, to grow, to give fruit and then part from this world into the loving hands of his God.

These same words encourage us. We are just beginning to understand and value what this looks like in marriage and ministry. Living together, fellowship, communication, to serve, to love, and to live out the Gospel with unity in Christ. The words of the Apostle Paul comfort and strengthen us. His message is just as significant today as it was 2,000 years ago. It’s worth it to fight the good fight of marriage, family, and friendship. I (Krista) have learned that a seminary is just as tough as serving in any other job. It’s worth it to work together for honesty, purity, grace and forgiveness. In reality, it’s an honor to fight this battle and  we feel very fortunate to be able to do it together. Our objective is clear, reach the goal, “finish the course” and be received into the presence of our Lord. In the meantime, we’d love to share what fighting the good fight has looked like for us over the past month or so. Our story in España continues…

Pastoral Internship
From the last letter that we sent my (Edu) ministry activities have multiplied! I continue to have the opportunity to teach in our church and other churches that have invited us. Krista and I went to my home church in the Canary Islands to lead a youth retreat. We were there the last weekend in October and I was asked to teach on the topic of our identity in Christ. In November, we were invited to preach at a church in Terrassa (what Ft. Worth is to Dallas) this time teaching from the book of Proverbs about laziness and diligence. I have also been teaching in our church, Vilassar, and am currently preparing a four week sermon series on the book of Ruth for February. We recently received an invitation to teach in Málaga (southern Spain) in January with a church that is without a pastor. Right after we return from Málaga, I will accompany our pastor to a conference in Madrid. This leads me to my next point. Our pastor and I have a weekly discipleship and meeting time.  We have just finished reading a book together called, “The Prodigal God” by Tim Keller. Beginning this month, we will be studying this book in the small groups of the church. This weekly time together is serving as great blessing and encouragement for both of us.

Small Group
Krista and I are also leading a small group, it is mainly young adults in their 20’s-30’s. Our heart for the small group is that in community we share practical and dynamic ways to live and communicate the Gospel to others. We meet every two weeks on Friday nights. Group starts at about 9:30 with dinner and ends around midnight after our time of discussion or activity. Lately, our church has been teaching a series on the book of Proverbs. One of the most recent sermons was on the topic of “compassion” in Proverbs. Three weeks ago, six members of our group made “picnics” and went out to the parks and bridges of a major city to serve the homeless a special dinner and hot chocolate. We spoke with many individuals and I got to know a man who lost everything in a matter of years, his job, his family, and in other terms, he had lost all hope. We will start our small group up this next week and will hopefully be able to go out again and serve those who are in need.

Community
Living in community is often difficult, it stretches you, you are asked to lay down your rights, and to consider others better than yourself. A seminary is made up of many people from various churches. In the church there are differences which unfortunately lead us to conflict, poor communication, bad decisions, hardened hearts, etc. But in the family of believers there is also the opportunity to live and practice the Gospel in our actions, our speech, our thoughts, our attitude. It’s not the problem per se that is most important, it is our response. I (Krista) can say that I am learning a lot and being challenged to grow in many ways. There are many exciting moments when you see the Lord working in the lives of His people, myself included. He draws them closer to Him and exchanges their pride for humility, their self-dependence for Godly reliance. We have been able to take advantage of some vacation days and visit friends before Christmas in Bilbao and later in Nice for New Year’s. Both of the trips were very much enjoyed, connecting with good friends and encouraging one another.

Petitions & Praises:

  • Praise the Lord for meeting our needs every month, we continually see His provision for us above and beyond what we deserve. Please pray for our future. We are unsure of what our next steps will be but are confident He will show us the way. We are considering some changes but really need wisdom to choose the best option.
  • Praise God for our great church home, Vilassar, and for the “family” we feel that we have there. Please pray for our ministry in the local church. Planning intentional time for our small group, sermon preparation, etc.
  • Seminary, it has been nice to have a break and we are ready to start up this new semester. Please pray for both of us as we live and serve here at the seminary.
  • Marriage, it’s better than what we ever dreamed or expected. That doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging, it is, but it’s worth it. Please pray for unity between us and that we would continue to enjoy the “newness” of marriage.

Edu leading the way...

In the beginning we spoke of fighting the good fight, and finishing the course. However, the Apostle Paul said something more, “I have kept the faith.” This is the crown of righteousness laid up for us (1 Tim. 4:8) that the Lord has given us to fight the good fight that we have before us, arriving at the end with many others to see Him face to face. We want to thank you for your prayers and offerings. These gifts help us to seek the Lord, humbling ourselves before His presence and recognizing that by ourselves we can’t make it. We depend on His grace and mercy. Faith in itself can sometimes falter or feel weak, but you and your commitment to us continues to pick us up and give us hope. Thank you for collaborating in our fight for keeping the faith. Thank you for being a blessing to us.

Your Servants in Christ,
    Edu & Krista García

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